Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Free shuttle from airport to downtown SLC

Faced with a five hour layover at the Salt Lake City airport, we discovered the Morman church runs a free shuttle to Temple Square. We got a short tour of the Conference Center and the North Visitor Center, a discount coupon for the four restaurants on the grounds, and a ride back to the airport. It was an interesting diversion, certainly better than sitting in the airport. It was sort of like a Mormon Disneyland - everything spotlessly clean, everyone cheerful. The Conference Center has a hall that seats 21,000 people and has amazing acoustics. Sort of like the Great Hall of the People, Mormon style. Everyone was very nice, we went with our eyes open - no danger of being converted - and our guides were true believers at Temple Square for their 18 month mission.

Friday, August 25, 2006

World Trade Center II

Is it any easier to lose someone through a major disaster when the whole world stops and mourns with you?

Your friend or relative gets killed in a car accident, a robbery, or gets hit by a falling tree. In an instant your life is changed. Your expectations are altered. The person you were going to see tomorrow is gone. The love of your life who made you a whole person is gone. Your brother, your kid's uncle, who has been part of your life forever will never put his arm over your shoulder again. The parent of your child is gone. Whatever it is, your life will never be the same. As you absorb this tragedy, the world goes on oblivious to your personal calamity. People play baseball, make silly jokes, tell you to have a good day, and generally carry on as if everything is normal.

But if your spouse or child died on 9/11, the whole world stopped and observed your loss. Sporting events were cancelled. There was grief everywhere. Your loss was acknowledged by everyone.

I'm sure some types of deaths are harder to accept than others - unsolved disappearances where there is no closure, murders where you have to deal with the fact that someone has intentionally done this unnecessary evil. Yet, every mother's grief over the loss of a child is more than people can imagine they can bear. A husband's loss of his beautiful wife and his children's mother is wrenching.

Is it easier if the whole world stops and mourns with you - implicitly acknowledges the horror of the day? I don't know. Any thoughts?

World Trade Center - Part I

We saw the movie Thursday.

The title is wrong. It should be "Jimeno and McLoughlin," or more precisely "J & M h\Have a Bad Day." It is not about the WTC; that is only the backdrop. The collective 60,000 individual stories of people who escaped or didn't on 9/11 might make up something that could be called WTC.

Is this movie political? One of my reactions walking out was, "This isn't a political movie." On further thought, this reaction was based on what I expected from Oliver Stone. Any movie about 9/11 is political given that 9/11 has been George Bush's justification for everything. It could be seen as apolitical in that it is 'just' the story of two Port Authority cops who got trapped in the collapsed WTC, their families, and the rescue. Another realization was that it is handled with complete lack of irony. The music isn't there to heighten tension, to build up suspense. It is solemn, patriotic, and respectful, like the music in Shindler's List, or a military recruitment ad. It tells the audience "No fooling around, this is serious."

There were no pictures of airplanes crashing into the building that I remember (maybe in all the shots of people around the world watching on tv there was one) and I don't recall any mention of who flew the planes into the building. Everyone knows, so it needn't to be said. This movie isn't about them.

So, what does it mean politically? That liberals can own 9/11 too? That this is not just a conservative issue? Maybe. On one level, this is simply an homage to the rescuers.

But I was also struck, eventually, by the total futility of the rescuers. This group of cops shows up at the building. They really don't know what to do. They aren't really coordinated with any other rescuers. They grab some equipment and they are going to 'go help.' Even though the world is watching events live on tv, these guys really have no idea what is going on. They rescue no one. They lost all but two members of their team. The two get resuced from the rubble the next day. It's not clear in the movie how much permanent physical or mental injury they still have two years later. If this group of cops had just stayed away, the death toll and pain and suffering would have been diminished.

The dramatic rescue scene shows the cops, pulled out on stretchers from under the rubble being passed from hand to hand through a column of jubilant rescuers like a bucket of water being passed on to throw at the fire. The cheers at the news that they had found two live cops in the rubble, and the crowd of rescuers helping to pass along the stretchers also symbolized the complete powerlessness of the police and fire departments. Everyone wanted to be part of the very little the rescuers actually accomplished. Wanted to feel that they had something to show for being there. This was highlighted by the words written on the screen, that only 20 people were rescued.

When the other 60,000 stories are told, then we will have something that can be collectively called The World Trade Center.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Best Secret Powerpoint Tip

The presenter had the top of his laptop blocking the projector so his Powerpoint presentation wouldn't be on the screen before he was ready to use it. He kept feeling the laptop lid to see how hot it was getting from the projected light.

Why doesn't Powerpoint tell everyone about this simple way to turn off your presentation until you are ready?

When in Presentation mode, just hit B (for black) and the screen goes Black. When you are ready to start, hit B again. I'm always surprised at how many veteran Powerpoint users don't know this. You can also hit W (for White). There are lots of other good mid-Presentation tricks you can find if you hit F1 in presentation mode. Like using the cursor as a pen (and then erasing it).

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


Slowly converting our front 'lawn' to flower beds. Dug up some turf earlier this summer - grass and clover roots holding lots of soil. Didn't want to toss the soil, but also didn't want those grass roots in my soil bin. Finally got out the wheel barrow yesterday and screened most of the dirt from the roots and grass. Why work so hard? Just buy some topsoil. But quietly working at it, gloved hands working the soil, slowly reclaiming it, was a nice time to relax and reflect in the light rain. Got half a wheel barrow full yesterday. Another half today. Today, four or five black capped chicadees landed in the mountain ash next to me and started scolding me. fearlessly sitting on branches barely three feet from me. After about five minutes they flew off. Dirt is so critical. Now I've got all this clean dirt. Can mix it with some compost from that pile - saw lots of worms in there yesterday - and a little sand and I've got good soil. Instead, we are urged to be consumers and disposers. Throw the kitchen wastes in the disposal; throw the dirt clods in the garbage. Then go to Home Depot and buy the compost and buy the top soil. But working the dirt felt good, felt real, felt calming and connecting. New dirt.

Monday, August 14, 2006


So I have to verify myself to Google to check their site maps. Not really sure what I'm doing, but have to "Create the HTML verification file specified below and upload it to [?]" Let's see if this works. If anyone who knows anything reads this and knows what I'm really supposed to do, let me know. Thanks.


Later: Well, that didn't work, but a little time with blogger help and google help for webmasters, I was able to use the other verifying option - putting a tag into the index. Since I didn't know what a tag was and have never done any HTML before, the help pages obviously did a good job.

So, what I learned is that the Google crawlers have so far not located this site. That I could notify them of the site - which I did - and they found no errors.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Going Digital

My Pentax has been a trusty companion since 1967. This week a new Canon Powershot has made it into the house. I feel like I've brought a new puppy into the house and the old dog is feeling jealous. I'm still playing around with it, checking all the things I can do, and experimenting. How long will I still play with the old dog? Being able to see, edit, and post this right away sure makes this convenient. Like this moose we saw today at Kincaid Park. And also having a much smaller camera is nice. Of course these are obvious benefits to people who make this switch. But will there be enough negatives so the Pentax will not get left in the closet every time?